History

Mountain Day, Mount Holyoke College’s oldest tradition, has happening since 1838, the year after the seminary was founded. It may have been created in the spirit of Mary Lyon’s mandate that every student should walk at least one mile every day, and certainly could not have occurred without her blessing. Mountain Day was originally held in June, and shifted to Octobe in 1893 – today the tradition is held in the fall season. The actual date of Mountain Day is kept secret by the President of the college (currently Lynn Pasquerella) until the day of the event. Early on a beautiful morning, the chapel bells ring to announce all classes are cancelled. Students spend the day climbing nearby mountains, particularly Mount Holyoke (now called Mt. Skinner) for exercise and to appreciate the natural beauty of the pastoral landscape which surrounds them. Ice Cream and timeless memories await all who gather at the top of Mt. Skinner!

Throughout its history, Mountain Day was suspended only for the Civil War and the destruction of the Seminary in 1896. During World Wars, students spent the day helping local farmers as a patriotic duty. Today, Mountain Day continues to be a beloved tradition, and every autumn the refrain “Is it Mountain Day yet?” is heard across campus. Because of its longevity and its popularity, it has earned itself an honored position among Mount Holyoke traditions, and will no doubt continue for many years.

(This history of Mountain Day was written in part by Jennifer Loomer ’04 and Katherine Underwood ’05)

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